Cleansing & Cleanses

CLEANSING – What is it? And why should we?

By Sarah Swindlehurst, Yoga Therapist & Raw Food Cleanse Coach

NB: Please see the very end of this article for other helpful nutritional articles.

What is Cleansing?

Simply put, cleansing or ‘a cleanse’ is a period of time (be it 3, 5, 7, 21, 30 days or more) of eliminating certain foods from our diets in order to bring harmony and equilibrium back into our bodies. In a ‘whole-listic’ cleanse we look at cleansing and tidying our personal space, our life and any mind clutter too.

This doesn’t necessarily mean giving up foods or lifestyle choices forever, more about taking stock of what we are eating, watching, doing, and giving ourselves a spring clean from time to time.

Generally in a ‘Raw Food Cleanse’ we will eliminate caffeine, refined sugars, gluten, processed foods and alcohol.

At the start of a cleanse you are eased into the cleanse by having a few lightly cooked foods, then moving into just raw or lightly steamed foods, and then gradually introducing more cooked foods again. By cleansing we give our bodies a spring clean from stimulants and any toxins can be flushed out. Cleansing can also promote weight loss.

Why should we cleanse?

Cleansing and detoxification dates back many thousands of years, and exists throughout all cultures and ages. It is seen as an important part of living a healthy, disease free life.

Our lives today and the foods that we eat are certainly very different to our primal ancestors who would have lived off the land and eaten mostly raw or slightly cooked foods. Back then the Earth was relatively unpolluted and full of natural nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Today the Earth’s soil tends to lack these rich nutrients due to the various pollutants and so not surprisingly so too does our beautiful organic bodies (and also our minds due to the various stimulants of technology).

The foods that are available today unless organic have been sprayed with chemicals such as pesticides, insecticides and other contaminants, and so guess what? We are thus consuming these chemicals too, and simply washing the fruits or vegetable will not wash these away either.

Along side all of this, we are eating far more ‘processed’ foods than ever before, with many shops and Supermarkets bombarding us as soon as we walk in, with the ‘bargains’ of ‘buy 5 for £1’ and ‘buy one get two free’ deals on many refined carbohydrates and processed meats. Not surprisingly with all the enticing advertisements that promote a ‘happier’ lifestyle if you eat this or purchase that, we are then swayed into contaminating our bodies with these ‘appealing’ ‘great deal’ denatured foods. There’s a saying, “If it’s got a shelf life then it doesn’t have a self life!” So true! Many of the foods we buy which are in tins or packets are over cooked, have hidden sugars, artificial sweeteners (non natural!) and/or additional preservatives in them, of which are actually poisonous or toxic for our bodies.

With all the unhealthy food choices our bodies can go into ‘overload’ which means that we have reached the limit on our toxic bank account and any further withdrawals can give us symptoms of (to name a few), acne, tiredness, depression, obesity, heart dis-ease, high blood pressure, arthritis, mood swings, hormonal imbalances, sweats, malnourishment, illness and dis-ease. Many people may think that these symptoms are natural and part of the aging process, but they are not!

So many of our food choices and methods of cooking (over cooking for example) are less than healthy for us, and unless we re-evaluate our choices from time to time, our choices will reflect in these problematic ‘symptoms’ – in our bodies and minds.

It’s not to say, never have these foods, it’s really just about balance (don’t you just love that word!), too much of the ‘wrong’ sort of foods (processed, caffeinated, refined, denatured) can overload your body, and in turn influence your mind and thinking too.

And so this is why we cleanse….. Ultimately cleansing is a time to reassess our choices, eliminate the foods which are deemed unhealthy and/or stressors, gain insight into poor eating habits and help you make better lifestyle choices. This can be for long periods of say 21-30 days, or shorter periods of 3-7days. Normally during a ‘Raw Food Cleanse’ we would eat mostly raw foods. This is because the foods are high in nutrients, closest to nature when raw and also contain lots of enzymes, (rather than the having been destroyed or reduced by cooking above 104F).

At the start of a cleanse you may go thorough some detoxification due to the change in eating habits and the body may go through a withdrawal process. Sometimes you may feel a little low in energy, have headaches or aching due to caffeine withdrawal, or perspire a little. This is okay and will pass as your body cleanses and eliminates any toxins. Usually what happens after a cleanse is that you feel better, the eyes are whiter and brighter, you have more energy, your moods improve, you feel ‘lighter’ and any physical, mental and emotional aliments can heal too.

The higher fibre content of the foods consumed in a cleanse is also said to help with weight loss as it causes the body to burn accumulated stored fats, releasing the fat-stored toxins into the blood, which can then be eliminated through the skin, blood, urine, faeces and breath.

What do we do on a Cleanse?

In a cleanse we give our bodies a well deserved rest from breaking down all the processed foods and over cooked foods that we may have eaten, and give our bodies what it is probably craving for with nutrient rich foods that are raw or slightly steamed. All foods are freshly prepared, using no canned foods or processed foods. We aim for eating three meals a day and eliminate snacking in between if possible. By cleansing in this way we aim to ease digestion, maximise waste elimination and increase our absorption of vitamins and minerals. We also aim to think more about our breathing and to breathe better. Our breath is so important as it brings oxygen into our bodies and helps to nourish us too.

Everyday we have a simple routine to follow, starting with a glass of warm water with half a lemon squeezed into it. This will help cleanse your liver and kick start the metabolism. After some rest time of about 20 minutes you would then have your breakfast. You would eat a healthy whole food lunch (whole foods being fresh vegetables, nuts, fruits, seeds) and later a delicious evening meal. Drinks would be herbal teas or fresh filtered water.

Due to the body detoxifying and cleansing, activities should be light where possible and periods of rest should be instilled.  Writing a journal will also help, as you can release emotions and thoughts that come up during the cleanse.

This Five Day Cleanse is designed as an introduction to cleansing and better eating…other deeper cleanses might consist of ‘smoothie only’ cleanses and ‘just juice’ cleanses.

Example of a Five Day Cleanse

(All foods must be chewed fully and eaten mindfully)


On rising: Glass of warm water with half a lemon squeezed into it.

Breakfast: Gluten free porridge oats or rice flake porridge, made with almond or hemp milk. Add spouted nuts and fruit as desired.

Lunch: Varity of Salad: Fresh greens with spinach, tomatoes, grated carrot, sweetcorn, spouted cashew nuts and fresh herbs – as much as you like.

Dried fruit pieces as a mid afternoon (or mid morning) snack (containing no sulphur dioxide!).

Evening Meal: Gluten free pasta with a fresh tomato and basil dressing & fresh herbs, with various stir fry vegetables and tofu.


On rising: Glass of warm water with half a lemon squeezed into it.

Breakfast: Green Smoothie (raw) – Spinach, coconut water, banana, frozen berries, hemp protein (optional) and chia seeds (sprouted).

Lunch: Coconut Ginger Soup (lightly cooked) – Fresh ginger, garlic, onion, coconut oil, cumin, butternut squash, Celtic salt, coconut milk, water

Evening Meal: Large various mixed vegetable salad (all raw) – beetroot, peppers, carrots, sweetcorn, spinach, rocket, watercress, avocado, orange segments, omega seeds (sprouted), with lemon and cider vinegar dressing– eat as much as you like.  


On rising: Glass of warm water with half a lemon squeezed into it.

Breakfast: Purple Smoothie (raw) – Beetroot, coconut water and oil, banana, frozen blueberries, Vega one berry flavoured protein powder (optional) and linseed/sunflower seeds (sprouted).

Lunch: Rice paper Spring Rolls – Peppers, Cabbage, Carrots, Cucumber, Sprouts, Sweetcorn, onion and mixed fresh herbs, with spicy dip of warm water mixed with garlic, ginger, cayenne pepper, lemon juice, tamari and almond butter 

Evening Meal: Raw Soup – Cucumber, celery, avocado, garlic, sprouts, leafy greens, soaked seaweed, water, Celtic salt – all blended together.


On rising: Glass of warm water with half a lemon squeezed into it.

Breakfast: Chia Seed Pudding (raw) – Chia seeds, coconut milk, banana, cinnamon.  

Lunch: Green Salad (raw) – Spinach, watercress, mixed leaves, raw green beans and peas, sliced apple & pear, bean sprouts, avocado, cucumber, green pepper, Chia seeds/walnuts/almonds (all sprouted), with basil herb olive oil dressing – eat as much as you like. 

Evening Meal: Rice paper Spring Rolls – Peppers, Cabbage, Carrots, Cucumber, Sprouts, Sweetcorn, onion and mixed fresh herbs, with avocado sauce.  


On rising: Glass of warm water with half a lemon squeezed into it.

Breakfast: Gluten free oat or rice flake porridge made with hemp milk and coconut oil, with fresh raspberries, strawberries and blue berries. 

Lunch: Carrot and Coriander Soup (lightly cooked) – Fresh coriander, carrots, garlic, onion, coconut oil, Celtic salt, coconut milk, water.

Coconut pieces as a mid afternoon (or mid morning) snack.

Evening Meal: Stir fried vegetables (lightly cooked) and cashew nuts (sprouted) – mixed peppers, broccoli, bean sprouts, sweetcorn, mushrooms, carrots, chilli peppers, garlic, fresh herbs, little honey.  

For articles and essays by Sarah Swindlehurst/Mulliner, please see the links below:

So you want to try an Alkaline Diet? (Article for Vegan Magazine) – By Sarah Swindlehurst/Mulliner

The role of hydrochloric acid in protecting the body from disease. By Sarah Swindlehurst/Mulliner

An explanation of he progression to Metabolic Syndrome (pre-diabetes) that results from inappropriate diet and lifestyle. By Sarah Swindlehurst/Mulliner

The therapeutic use of probiotics in cases of diarrhoea. By Sarah Swindlehurst/Mulliner